It’s vacation time and you find yourself driving through the Italian countryside in a rented Fiat with your loved one next to you. The views have been gorgeous all day. You had wanted to wander off the beaten path and you succeeded as the villages you have passed today look well-maintained yet abandoned by life. Besides the music from the radio, a persistent growling sound is coming from your stomachs. Time for dinner. But where? In the next town devoid of activity you take a road that goes up the hill. Just when you feel that you took a wrong turn you see a place with many cars parked in front. It’s as if the people from all the towns you passed today gathered there.
The waiter leads you and your loved one to the last table they have available outside on the terrace. The view is breathtaking, the temperature is perfect and the smell in the air can only be experienced in the Mediterranean. Your loved one looks more beautiful than ever. The menu looks promising and you both go for a risotto as a starter and braised beef as a main course. While you look at the wine list, you can only make one choice: this evening calls for a Barolo.
One of the Best Wines in the World
One of the best wines in the world is a red wine produced in the Piedmont region in northern Italy. Together with the Barbaresco, the Barolo is considered to be the wine for kings and queens and, perhaps not surprisingly, it is a relatively expensive wine. Despite its translucent appearance, it is a big, powerful and tannic wine that easily overwhelms the lighter food. The recommendation for the younger, more affordable ones is to let them age to soften its tannic austerity. The Barolo wines have a deep bouquet of roses and vanilla and is perfect for special occasions.
The Nebbiolo Grape
Barolo is made solely out of the nebbiolo grape. It is a grape that is said to make the wine lovers happy and the producers unhappy. To many, the wine produced from this grape is one of the nicer ones in the world. However, it is also one of the more difficult grapes to grow.
The grape is also used for making Barbaresco, another high-end wine, and wines that are less expensive from the same region such as the Langhe nebbiolo. If you would like to try a wine made from the nebbiolo grape today, the Langhe nebbiolo can be an option, as it doesn’t need the aging a Barolo or Barbaresco requires. Or you take out your wallet and you purchase a Barolo that has aged already, although you typically wouldn’t find those at your local wine shop.
Limited Supply Guaranteed
A Barolo DOCG carries the strictest label in Italy used for assuring a controlled and guaranteed designation of origin. Even within the zone of production, that surrounds the town of Barolo, there are strict requirements with respect to the location of the vineyards. In addition, to be labeled DOCG, a Barolo must have at a mimimum 2 years of aging in oak and 1 year in the bottle. A Barolo Riserva must have at least 5 years of aging, of which a minimum of 3 in oak. Before bottling, the wines are analysed and tasted by government-licensed personnel and after bottling the bottles are sealed to avoid possible manipulation.
A Vineyard Kissed By God
Further designations on your bottle of Barolo may relate to the specific vineyard the grapes for your bottle were grown. The most famous is the Cannubi, a vineyard on a long hill with a gradual slope in the heart of the Barolo area. It is said to benefit from a unusual and unique microclimate, which makes the wines from this vineyard even more unique. Because the area is coveted, determining its boundaries has been a very complicated and emotional issue, as various wineries seek to use Cannubi on their labels. This has been captured very well in the documentary “Cannubi: a vineyard kissed by God”. Even though there is no official designation of a cru vineyard in the Barolo area, some vineyards have been elevated to cru class and Cannubi is one of them.
A Barolo goes very well with the food of the Piedmont region. Think red meats, stews, braised meats and game, a heavy pasta or risotto. It also tastes extraordinarily well with cheese of sheep’s milk and aged cheeses.